House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy was recorded in July 2016 stating his belief that Russian President Vladimir Putin was paying Donald Trump, according to a new report in The Washington Post. At that point, Trump was a month away from securing the Republican nomination for president.
“There’s two people I think Putin pays: Rohrabacher and Trump,” McCarthy said to a room o Republican lawmakers, prompting some to laugh. "Swear to God," McCarthy responded. (Dana Rohrabacher is a Republican House representative from California known for defending Russia and Putin.)
Speaker of the House Paul Ryan was reportedly in the room, and interrupted McCarthy at this point. He then swore everyone else in the room to secrecy. “No leaks...This is how we know we’re a real family here," he said.
McCarthy's spokesman Matt Sparks initially denied the exchange occurred. When the Post said it had a recording, Sparks declared the remark was "a failed attempt at humor."
The revelation comes as House Republicans continue to through their support behind Trump as the President faces increasing scrutiny over his connections to Russia.Yesterday, The New York Times revealed the existence of a memo written by former FBI head James Comey claiming that Trump asked him to close Bureau's investigation into Michael Flynn, Trump's national security advisor. This firestorm was immediately preceded by another on Monday, when it was revealed that Trump had haphazardly shared top secret information with a Russian diplomat.